With the batting department ruling the roost at the moment in One Day cricket, captains of the fielding side have generally been more conservative in their approach. Introduction of bigger bats, two new balls and the restriction of having just 4 fielders outside the 30 yard circle have made bowlers to bowl just for the sake of formality. Aggressive thinking is way too ahead as bowlers are being hit out of the park in most of the matches. Bowling out the opposition in today’s era is becoming as difficult as it was scoring 300 runs two decades back. But in spite of all these obstacles, there has been one captain, whose aggressive thinking has brought the most out of his bowlers, making his team to look threatening with the ball.
No doubt, Brendon McCullum has emerged as one of those captains who go out with his troops aiming to bowl out the opposition. With Tim Southee and Trent Boult forming the front line pace attack which is followed by the ferocity of Adam Milne, the experience of Daniel Vettori and medium pace of Corey Anderson, the Kiwis boast of a very well balanced bowling attack which can make the most of the Australian conditions. It will be interesting to see how far they can go in the competition as this bowling attack can test any batting line up in this world cup.
Captains generally save the overs of their strike bowler for the climax of the innings. Some would become a bit defensive in the middle overs in spite of being one step ahead of the opposition. But the Kiwi Captain’s world of captaincy doesn’t allow places for such thinking. Even if Southee or Boult takes a couple of wickets in their first spell, McCullum will continue giving them the opportunity to have a go at the batsmen.
As we saw in the recent group match against England, the moment Vettori took the wicket of captain Eoin Morgan, Southee was brought back from the other end. And guess what happened next; he took 5 wickets in his next 4 overs and literally kicked the opposition out of the contest. The credit goes to Southee for his outstanding swing bowling but the real hero according to me was McCullum. That’s why he is the silent guardian of New Zealand Cricket at the moment.
We have already been acquainted with the havoc that McCullum can create with his bat. As an opener, as a captain, he sets the tone of the innings by being aggressive thus, disrupting the line and length of the bowler. The best thing is when a captain is so aggressive; it lifts and motivates a team in a different manner. It’s also a bit of concern that he creates a lot more chance of being dismissed early but if he remains at the crease for 30 balls, he can bring NZ closer to victory. Such is the storm of McCullum.
In 1992, Martin Crowe brought a revolution in strategy making when he gave the new ball to a spinner. He also made frequent bowling changes to break the rhythm of the batting team. Quite clearly they were the best team in the competition but unfortunately lost their way in the semis against the eventual champions Pakistan. Come 2015 and looks like Brendon is trying his best to emulate the former captain, bringing change in the way cricket is played. His team go into the middle with that aggressive intent which is seldom applied by the captains in today’s cricket. Hopefully this time, they will go one step ahead in the competition and try their best to get the hands on the coveted trophy.